Thanksgiving was hectic. It was amazing– just hectic. It was great to spend time with family but I was more than ready to just relax when it was all said and done. Now, for most people, relaxing would mean spending a day on the couch in recovery mood from all of the food you had over Thanksgiving and the inevitable trip out for Black Friday but not me. When people ask me what I do to relax, it’s always the same answer– I go to a concert and lose myself in the crowd and atmosphere. To say I was ready for a concert when last night rolled around would be an understatement.
As I walked into First Avenue, I claimed my spot in the corner and watched as the room quickly filled up. The speakers were blaring the stylings of local DJ Fundo who has an amazing way of mixing old school, new school and local tunes that create the perfect soundtrack to coming into the venue, grabbing a drink, and claiming a spot. Just before nine, DJ Fundo’s computer was replaced with that of DJ Name and we were off to the races. Local favorite Sean Anonymous was up first and as soon as I saw him take the stage, I finally felt that relaxation I had been needing since family dinner.
Sean may be a bit quirky as far as personality and the way he raps but don’t let that fool you. This guys is a thing and, although he has been around for years, it seems like he is finally starting to his is stride. Every time I see Sean perform, I’m struck by the amount of energy he has. It doesn’t matter if he’s opening the show or headlining, he seems to perform every show like it’s the most important show of his life and that’s something I definitely appreciate. With some tried and true favorites, a brand new song, and a couple of guests joining him towards the end, there was a little something something for everyone in the crowd. Sean’s set was too short for my liking but I understood that there was plenty more music to come. Sean Anonymous is one of those locals that I could stand and watch for days. The endless energy and undeniable talent mix to create exactly what I love about the Twin Cities music scene– the passion.
Following Sean Anonymous was Chicago based ProbCause. Having done songs with names such as GRiZ and Chance the Rapper, ProbCause is quickly turning into a household name. Even though he’s technically from Chicago, he fits almost too perfectly in the Twin Cities hip-hop scene. Much like the headliner of the night, I like to think of ProbCause as a bit of an adoptive child of the Twin Cities scene. His lyrics are about everyday life and are more than relatable to anyone who grew up in the Midwest. Kind of a jack of all trades and doing everything from animation to rapping, this guy is a force to be reckoned with. His positive energy was a perfect follow up to the set from Sean Anonymous. Featuring a live guitarist and an auxiliary percussionist, ProbCauses’ set seemed to build up from what Sean had laid the brick for. The crowd was still filing into the venue throughout the set but, as soon as audience members had claimed their spot, they could be spotted nodding their heads to the beat and tapping their toes.
Closing out the night of amazing local and nation hip-hop was Grieves. Although he is based in Seattle, it is easy to be fooled into thinking he is a local. The 33 year old took the stage to a roaring applause and wasted no time as he jumped right into his extensive, nearly twenty song set. Even though he just released his new album Running Wild earlier this year, he seemed to focus on older songs which thrilled the audience. With every song that Grieves performed, you could feel the passion build and build. He sang each word with an undeniable sense of conviction that was reflected in the way he was received by the people in the crowd. The audience was singing along to every single word and you could feel the love that they were showering the performer with.
I’ve been a huge fan of Grieves since the first time I heard him because of the lyrics. Much like the other acts that graced the stage prior to him and the entire Twin Cities hip-hop scene, the lyrics are about real life. They are about breaking up with someone you love because it’s just not working, about waking up with a wicked hangover, about chilling in parking lots like the delinquents we all are. Even when addressing the crowd between songs, there’s no way you can interpret his words as anything short of genuine. Although he has toured the world, he still seemed humbled by the amount of love he receives from his fans, especially those in Minneapolis. I should have counted the times he expressed his love for this city but, honestly, I couldn’t keep up.
There’s no denying the impact the local hip-hop scene here in the Twin Cities has had on the world. I mean, come on, we have Rhymesayers and Doomtree (and if you don’t know what either of those are I highly suggest you check them out). Both of those groups seem to focus on musicians that are still living here in the Twin Cities but Grieves is one that, although he lives far away, he still represents everything the Twin Cities stands for. It’s that genuine feeling he gives off. The way that, even if you aren’t a fan of the type of music he’s putting out there, you can’t help but fall in love with his charming lyrics and personality. He’s a down to earth kind of kid that you could see yourself sharing a beer and some tater tots with.
I never thought of myself as a hip-hop fan. Honestly, I used to make fun of it when growing up but, now that I’ve been living in the Twin Cities for over ten years, there’s no hiding my love for the local (and adoptive local) hip-hop scene (I mean, I really can’t deny the giant Doomtree tattoo on my arm). Last night was a perfect example of why I fell in love with this scene. It’s the people that smile as you squeeze past them trying to get to a better spot, the strangers that hold your hair back as you puke into the trash can (you’re welcome to the young lady who couldn’t hold her alcohol past the opening set), the people that accidentally bump into you and offer to buy you a drink as a consolation.
More important than all of that– I love this scene for it’s passion and there was no shortage of passion last night.